Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
What do I need to make sure is in my contract? I am going to be working with a Travel Nurse company for the first time and I want to make sure that I get everything that’s been promised to me.
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
I think you may have answered your own question 🙂
ANYTHING that is promised to you should be in your contract. You also need to decide that if certain things are promised, and not delivered, is it enough to cause you to “walk” on your contract. If you believe that you would ever consider doing this, then you need to also make sure certain things are NOT in your contract.
First, you should have the conditions of your work assignment. Things like the location of the hospital, unit in which you will be working, shift, hours per week, rate for base time, rate for OT and holidays.
Next you will want to look for the things that the travel company I providing for you, like medical/dental, housing or a stipend, and any reimbursements for things like state licensure or travel. Stipends or reimbursements should have a dollar amount attached to them and housing should specify a one-bedroom apartment (if that is what you agreed upon).
I mention the one-bedroom apartment because this is probably the thing most promised, and then not delivered. I have heard from many travelers that were promised a one-bedroom only to have their recruiter tell them they couldn’t find one, but would move them (from an extended stay hotel) to a one-bedroom as soon as one became available (which usually ends up being never).
To combat this, I always have the address of where I am staying at least a few days prior to arrival. If I were just starting with a new company, and they promised a one-bedroom apartment as part of my package, I would first make VERY clear to my recruiter that if I did not have the address prior to leaving, that I would NOT be leaving.
I would then hang up the phone and immediately call the company’s housing department and ask which apartment complexes they use in the area in which I would be traveling. Rarely, you may get to choose from a few complexes, but this is not the reason for my call.
If I am traveling to Ft Lauderdale for an assignment and they cannot even give me the names of a few of the complexes they have used in the past, what does that tell you about how many of their travelers actually see the inside of a one-bedroom apartment?
I also like to have my address so that I can start to arrange for things like my cable and Internet provider.
Along with the aforementioned items, your contract may also include things like your expectations while on assignment (act professionally, follow the facility’s rules and regulations, etc). However, sometimes these are signed in a separate yearly document that is labeled something like “professional practice agreement” or such.
One thing you also want to note is the terms and conditions of your contract as far as cancellations. This is one area in which you do NOT want to see certain things.
If a company puts too much of the risk on you (regarding hospital cancellations) then you may want to consider carefully whether you are willing to assume that risk. While cancellations are not common, they are also not unheard of and some contracts I have seen will possibly have YOU paying for a remaining lease, or other “fees and penalties” for not completing your assignment, whether it was by any fault of your own, or the facility just canceled your contract because they no longer had a need.
There will also likely be wording in there about what may happen should you decide to cancel your contract and what “fees or penalties” they may impose in that situation.
Every company will word this differently, so look out for these clauses and see if you feel it places too much risk upon you in the event of a contract cancellation.
While I am not an attorney and cannot under any circumstance give you (or anyone) a legal interpretation of a travel contract, I do enjoy reading them to see how the different companies operate.
If you (or anyone) would ever like my “opinion”, merely as a travel nurse, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and attach a copy of your contract and I’ll be happy to look at it and give my opinion about any areas that would concern me.
I hope this helps.